Westmont Men’s Basketball (12-7, 5-5 GSAC) could not overcome their slow start on Thursday, when they fell to the OUAZ Spirit (14-5, 6-4) by a score of 80-74. The Warriors made things interesting with a late run, but the club came up a few shots short as they fell back to .500 in conference contests.
“The game was lost early in the night and not in the second half,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “We were out of sync on both ends of the floor, and it led to a really poor first half. Still, with 15 minutes left we were down 16. I’m proud of our guys for fighting the whole way through.”
In the first half of action the Warriors struggled to shoot the basketball, making just 11 of 36 shots from the field. Westmont’s only advantage of the opening period was a mere two points, when they led 10-8 briefly at the 16:45 mark.
Westmont first got into trouble on Thursday following a layup from Amir Davis at the 11:48 mark. Davis’ layup cut an early deficit to one at 20-19, but then preceded a five minute stretch where the Warriors could not put a single point on the board. Despite finding open shooters, Westmont ran into a cold streak with 11 consecutive missed field goal attempts. During the dry spell, OUAZ went on a 10-0 run to lead 30-19 with under 6:30 to play.
With 5:40 left in the half, a quick run for Westmont brought the deficit within six, but the Spirit responded with a 9-0 run, allowing OUAZ to claim a 39-24 advantage in the final two minutes. By halftime, the Warriors settled for a 41-28 deficit in a half where they shot just two of 14 from three-point range.
The Warriors chipped away slowly in the second half, getting back within 10 with 12:30 to play. From that point, however, it took several minutes for the Warriors to make any further dent. With 4:20 left, Drew Ramirez hit a 3-pointer that pulled Westmont within eight at 70-62, which was the closest they had been since the first half.
Westmont built on the late momentum, scoring another four unanswered points on their next two possessions. With 3:26 to play, Westmont played themselves into a 70-66 ballgame, with several chances to pull even closer. Unfortunately for Westmont, once they got within four, the Warriors missed three consecutive free throws, and back-to-back 3-pointers.
After Westmont’s inability to capitalize, the Spirit responded with back-to-back baskets, pushing the lead to 74-66 in the final 90 seconds. The Warriors got back within four in the final minute, but with the clock working against them, the club still left Faith Arena with an 80-74 loss.
Westmont improved to make 19 of 32 from the field in the second, but overall converted just seven of their 13 free throw attempts, and seven of their 26 shots from downtown. Another key difference in the contest was the rebound differential, where the Warriors were also out-boarded 44-31.
“There was lack of execution and lack of rebounding tonight,” reflected Boucher. “Those things were our Achilles heel tonight. It’s as simple as that, when we don’t execute and don’t rebound, it’s tough to win basketball games.”
Highlighting Westmont’s effort was Anthony McIntyre’s 27 points on 10 of 19 shooting. Westmont’s leading scorer also converted all five of his free throw attempts, and led the team with four steals.
“Anthony was really special tonight,” noted Boucher. “I thought he played with a lot of heart. Not only the 27 points, but he did everything he could to keep us in it. He was a big reason why that game never really got out of hand. Amir Davis played a special final 10 minutes as well.”
The Warriors play again today against #5 Arizona Christian.
“It’s a quick turnaround for us,” said Boucher, “and these Arizona trips are difficult, but they’re difficult on everybody, not just us. We’ve got to be ready to execute come Saturday.”
A week from today, Westmont will host The Master’s for a highly anticipated rivalry game back in Santa Barbara.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.